Tag Archives: pantry

Walleye Two Ways {With Wine Pairings}

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This weekend, I tried to replicate last year’s Pantry Challenge. I made it more restrictive this time, though. After making a list of all of the items I had in my fridge, freezer and pantry, I decided that I could only use items in my home. I couldn’t supplement with any other groceries. I didn’t have too many ideas on what I’d make. I just knew that the list of foods I already had was way too long and varied not to figure out something.

When my parents were in town earlier this summer, my dad stashed some walleye in my freezer. He had caught it when he was out fishing a couple of weeks earlier.

Walleye? What’s a walleye?

That was a question I was asked when a work colleague came into town from Boston a few years back. We were out to dinner and I hadn’t even given a thought to the fact that they wouldn’t see this northern, freshwater fish on the East Coast.

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Growing up, I really didn’t like fish. Part of it may have been that my mom didn’t like it, which means she never really cooked it. The times I did try fish, I didn’t like it because it tasted, well… fishy.

I can’t pinpoint when I started trying and liking fish and seafood, but I can say that it was probably at the end of my college career or shortly thereafter.

On the other hand, Rob is allergic to seafood. So the opportunity to make it this weekend presented itself when he went out of town.

I have to say that I don’t have a lot of experience cooking fish, but I have done it with success. So I started by looking up a pinning a few recipes to find out what were the best methods to preparing walleye, in particular.

What I found?

People really like to fry walleye! I think that’s the way I’ve mostly eaten it, too. But I didn’t want to fry it. I wanted to find a healthier version. I wanted to try something different.

So on Friday night, I made myself some Tuscan Walleye, something I can’t imagine that many people have done. 😉 I weighed my package of vacuum-sealed walleye and learned that it was twelve ounces. Twelve ounces of fish? How was I going to eat that in one sitting? Fish isn’t exactly something that tastes great reheated.

But after I took it out of the package, I found that there were TWO filets! And since I originally couldn’t decide which recipe I wanted to try, I decided I’d have walleye one way on Friday night and another way on Saturday for lunch.

Tuscan Walleye

For the Tuscan Walleye, I put the filet in a baking dish and brushed it with a Tuscan Herb-flavored olive oil that my parents also gave me as a gift.

630Then I seasoned it with salt and pepper. I repeated this on the other side. This blog is not titled Season It Already! for nothing.

631I popped it into a pre-heated 500 degree oven for about seven minutes. In the meantime, I made myself a Caprese Salad. And I’m not talking my usual Poorman’s Caprese. Oh, no.  I went all out with some fresh mozzarella and even added a different brown tomato called the Kumato for some color.

633I drizzled it with the same Tuscan Herb olive oil and seasoned it with some salt and pepper as well.

Dinner was Served!

634Eating this dish out on my back deck as the sun began to set on Friday night. At first, the fish was a little fishy-tasting. But soon, the seasoning took over. It was light and flaky and perfect for a summer day. After finding absolutely no bones, I gave Sham and Sophie each a piece. Bad Idea! They continued to beg from me the duration of my meal.

Wine Pairing

I’d pair the Tuscan Walleye with a nice crisp Italian Pinot Grigio.

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As for my second version of walleye, I decided to do something WILD! A week or so ago, when I was at the store, I impulsively bought a grapefruit because it just smelled so good that day. It’s not a fruit I often eat, so it was still in my fridge. Then I found a recipe for Grapefruit Walleye!

Grapefruit Walleye

Since the recipe calls for 4 to 6 walleye filets, I just divided this recipe by four to cook for one. My one grapefruit was the perfect amount to cover the needed grapefruit juice and sections. However, I think I may have started my grapefruit sauce a little to early, because it really reduced down by the time the fish was done and became more of a chutney.

Grapefruit WalleyeBefore I cooked the fish, I did notice some bones, but I was having trouble getting those little suckers out. So I was just careful when I ate and they came out easily as the fish flaked away.

This time, I added some fresh basil to my Caprese Salad, used only a Kumato and drizzled it with a good quality Italian extra virgin olive oil. The walleye turned out beautifully! I loved the combination of grapefruit with the dill and green onions. I’d make this version again in a heartbeat.

Wine Pairing

I’d pair the Grapefruit Walleye with crisp, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc, of course! Sauvignon Blancs are know for their grapefruity and herbal qualities. With the dill, green onions and grapefruit, this is a match made in heaven!

Thank you, Dad for the delicious walleye!

~

What is your favorite way to prepare fish?

Cheers~
Carrie

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My Weekend Pantry Challenge

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My husband went out of town this weekend. So, I decided to give myself a challenge:

Cook only from my pantry, fridge and freezer.

This meant no eating out nor buying of any groceries. The only exception to the rule:

I could buy any fresh produce.

I still wanted to limit buying produce as much as possible because I needed to use up what was already in my fridge and from my last two CSA boxes. However, a trip to the farmer’s market on Thursday afternoon overstocked me even more. It’s just too easy to get carried away when I’m there!

The purpose of the challenge was to use up items that seem to be wasting space in the fridge, freezer or pantry. In particular, I wanted to use up the ones that I don’t use very often because either:

  1. My husband is allergic to them.
  2. He’s just doesn’t like them.

My CSA box the week before came with several jalapenos:

jalapenos and serrano pepper

I hadn’t had a chance to use them, so they were starting to shrivel. This photo was actually taken over a week before using them, so you still get the fresh look. However, the serrano pepper was from the week prior to that and had not only shriveled, but turned from green to the bright red color you see above.

I made sure to get out my trusty Homesick Texan Cookbook to put these little babies to good use.

Note: Slightly shriveled jalapenos pack nearly as much heat as fresh ones! {Or so it seems to me.} I’m so glad that I didn’t toss them!

On Thursday night, I started with:

Tex-Mex Squash Casserole

from

The Homesick Texan Cookbook

The chopping of all of the squash, onions and jalapenos was the most time consuming. Even with the Knife Skills Class that I took at The Kitchen Window that completely changed my life {not kidding!}, it got a little old after a while. The cookbook recipe calls for everything to be diced. However, I just noticed that the online recipe I linked you to suggests just slicing the squash. I think that may have saved some time with no effect on the outcome.

After everything was cooked up and put in the casserole dish, I covered it in cheese:

Cheesy goodness!

When I pulled it out of the oven, I started to divide the dish into six servings, when I realized that you might want a photo of the finished product:

Golden brown cheesy goodness!

While I now notice that the online recipe calls for a can of Ro-tel tomatoes, Lisa’s cookbook recipe calls for “canned tomatoes, preferably fire roasted”. Oh, yeah, baby! We keep stashes of these on hand:

If you have never had these canned fire-roasted garlic tomatoes, you are missing out. When I open the can, I put my nose in. I can smell garlic. I get hungry.

Yes, when I open a can of tomatoes, my mouth waters.

They are that good. So naturally, those went in.

Flavor: Wow. This dish has the perfect amount of heat. I don’t know how she does it, but all of Lisa’s recipes that I’ve tried in her cookbook seem to hit that ideal spice level. Don’t get me wrong, I could go spicier. But I’m not necessarily sure that I want to do that now. There is something about finding that exact level of heat that gives a dish flavor, but not so much that you can’t taste the other ingredients. It’s magical when you you discover it.

Other notes: Despite the fact that this dish is composed of vegetables; it still was filling enough to be a main entrée. The tortilla chips didn’t give it a crust or a crunch; however, they served as a binding for the bottom, and that lovely corn flavor came through. The abundance of cheese adds a bit of protein. However, to add even more, I may cut back on the squash a little in the future and add a can of black beans instead.

I also made:

Mexican Corn

from

The Homesick Texan Cookbook

Despite the link to the recipe above, Lisa’s book recipe illustrates how to do this with or without corn on the cob. I used corn on the cob, but cut it off the cob first.

Flavor: There really wasn’t much flavor here, despite the overabundance of butter and mayo. It just made it high in calories and fat. Even the cilantro and lime didn’t give it that zest that that I’m used to. I think I’ll just keep my regular old buttered corn on the cob for now. Wait! I just realized, I forgot the cayenne. DOH!

Friday morning I made:

Green Monster Smoothie

from

Kim at Living, Laughing, & Losing

Kim loves to throw together her own smoothies. I made this one because I love the fact that it’s one of the few in the blogosphere that doesn’t have protein powder! {Seriously, I still don’t understand the stuff. If one is on a health kick, why eat processed protein?}

In any case, I didn’t take a picture because, hey, it was 6:30am on Friday. Do you really think my brain is functioning yet? Nope. I made a half-portion of her concoction and was sure to use this as suggested:

Another reason why I chose to make this smoothie is that she said that her boyfriend claimed it was the best smoothie she’s ever made.

He was right.

Uh, well, I don’t know Kim personally and hadn’t had any of her other smoothies prior to this. But this one made me “Mmm…” out loud. In fact, I loved it so much that I made another after yoga in the evening, but added blueberries as she did in a later post. Just as good, if not better! These may become a staple for a while.

Flavor: I think what makes this smoothie so great is the cinnamon! I would have never thought of adding that to a smoothie and I just may do it all the time. I’m sure the maple almond butter gave it a hit of sweetness, too.

Friday night’s dinner included:

Green Beans with Cilantro Pesto

from

The Homesick Texan Cookbook

Leftover Tex-Mex Squash Casserole with Cilantro Pesto Green Beans

Flavor: Just what you’d expect from a cilantro pesto! The serrano pepper gives is just a little kick. The recipe calls for pecans which I didn’t have on hand, so I threw in some toasted almonds instead. I saved some leftover pesto with which to:

  1. Coat more veggies or pasta.
  2. Top a burrito or even a crepe like Kat did.

Saturday’s eats:

I was cleaning like a mad woman, so mostly fruit and snacks were consumed during the day. One snack included:

Wholly Guacamole, jalapeno and tomato

I have about three more of those Wholly Guacamole packs left and they expire sometime this month. I thought I’d mix one with a bit of the leftover chopped jalapeno, some chopped tomato and garlic powder to make:

Jazzed Up Guacamole

I grabbed a handful of tortilla chips leftover from the bag I bought for the Tex-Mex Squash Casserole. This was a perfect-sized snack that carried me over during my complete overhaul of the office. In fact, I didn’t even think about starting to make dinner until 7:30pm.

I knew that I wanted to use up the Rob-unfriendly chicken that I put in the freezer a while back. Then I remembered this:

Kitchen Stash Supper

from

Iowa Girl Eats

I love this flexible recipe because it gives me a chance to do exactly what I needed to this weekend – use up items in my fridge, freezer and pantry.

Here’s what was in the mix of the version I made:

  • Half of an onion, diced – I never have shallots in the house, but always have onions.
  • Chopped Veggies – I used about three cups instead of two. I had so many options to choose from including red peppers and anaheim peppers from my CSA box, zucchini from the farmer’s market… But I ended up choosing the ones that I didn’t see myself using up later or that made the dish more varied in color:

onion, bok choy, canned fire-roasted garlic tomatoes, yellow squash

    • Bok choy from my CSA box
    • Garlic fire-roasted canned tomatoes – Half of a can was leftover from the Tex-Mex Squash Casserole. I drained the juices, though, so it wouldn’t make my dish runny.
    • Yellow squash from the farmer’s market
  • Chicken – I used the entire 15-oz package instead of the 12 ounces suggested in the recipe. I cooked it in this microsteamer instead of cooking it in olive oil.
  • Elbow Macaroni – I only had about 3.5 ounces left, but knew the extra chicken and veggies would make up for it.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese – I thought about using the last of the Chipotle Laughing Cow wedges I had or leftover Cojita cheese from my Homesick Texan recipes, but decided I wanted a different flavor from all the wonderful Tex-Mex ones I’d been having lately. I do not want to burn out on them!

The cooked chicken, sautéed veggies and sauce all mixed together looked like this:

Kitchen Stash Supper

Flavor: I wish it had more! Despite the fact that I used roasted garlic grapeseed oil to sauté the veggies and added a hefty spoonful of minced garlic, something was missing. Maybe I didn’t salt the dish enough? Maybe I should have used a more flavorful cheese? {Maybe I was just comparing to those wonderful Tex-Mex flavors I’ve been experiencing lately.} I didn’t add any fresh basil or parsley as suggested either. But the chicken was juicy and I loved the different textures of all the vegetables. And the sauce was creamy, too!

Notes: You know what I love most about this recipe? It’s another step to learning how to be flexible and creative in my cooking, to improvise. I’m really trying to learn to use recipes as guides and become more instinctive when I cook. If I would have tasted this before plating {Food Network 101, right?}, I would have thought to salt the dish a bit more or add another spice. I can’t wait to try it out next time!

But before I made that Saturday night Kitchen Stash Supper, I put together a Sunday salad that needed 24 hours to marinate:

Corn and Cucumber Salad with Fresh Blueberries

from

A Veggie Venture

The blueberries that I had picked up earlier in the week as a BOGO special are some of the best I’ve ever tasted. I found myself munching on them while putting this salad together. Mmm. Antioxidants!

When Sunday came around, I gave in and made this to accompany my salad:

Corn & Cucumber Salad with Blueberries and Hard-boiled Egg and Tomato Sandwich

Yes, that is Benny in the background eyeing my creation, hoping to get a bite!

I first saw the Egg, Tomato and Scallion Sandwich at Gina’s Skinny Recipes (aka Skinnytaste.com). Why didn’t I think of that? I thought. I had those ingredients on hand already. I felt directed to act. But I didn’t…

Until… Racheal at Running with Racheal posted pictures of the ones she made on her blog four different times in four days! Okay, so it was time. {Even if I was now out of scallions.} And I now realize why marketers say that you have to see or hear a message a bunch of times – even if we are interested in a product – before we take any purchasing action.

Verdict?

Let’s start with the Corn & Cucumber Salad with Blueberries.

Flavor:  My first bites… Mmm… good, fresh flavors. However, after a few more, I realized that I couldn’t really taste the blueberries. It could have been a corn and cucumber salad for that matter. And because I thought those blueberries were the absolute best I ever tasted, I decided to take some fresh ones and sprinkle them on top. Nope, the salad flavors still overpowered them.

Notes: I was curious to see how corn and blueberries would pair together, but I’m not sure that I could tell here. You could make this with just corn and cucumbers and still have  refreshing salad! However, the blueberries give a nice color contrast.

As for the Hard-boiled Egg & Tomato Sandwich:

Flavor: What the heck have I been waiting for!? No wonder Racheal had been making these four days in a row! I’m entirely positive that it’s not just because she is pregnant. 😉 When I saw this sandwich on Skinny Taste, I knew that eggs and tomatoes are flavors I loved. I knew that this would be simple to put together. So, I don’t know what took me so long. Thanks, Racheal for unintentionally kicking my butt into action!

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So, did I make a dent in my pantry, freezer and fridge? All that cooking made me feel like I did… but I still have the following perishables to use up with only one day to cook this work-week and another CSA box to arrive on Wednesday:

  • Tomatoes (3)
  • Red Bell Peppers (2)
  • Cucumbers (3)
  • Bok Choy
  • Hard-boiled Egg (1) – uh, it’s obvious what I’ll be doing with that!
  • Anaheim peppers (2)
  • Cilantro (about 1 cup)
  • Zucchini
  • Wholly Guacamole (two 100 cal packs)
  • Diced jalapeno
  • Cilantro pesto
  • Head of cabbage

I have lunches of leftover Tex-Mex Squash Casserole and Kitchen Stash Supper set to take with me to work all week. Red peppers and cucumbers were cut up as a snack for dipping in hummus. I can make another Hard-boiled Egg & Tomato Sandwich as well as another helping or two of Jazzed up Guac. But the rest? When will I use it all?

Sure, it may sound like all I did was cook and eat this weekend, but it didn’t really take up much time. I also cleaned, dog-sat, did a couple of 4-mile runs, attended three yoga sessions and participated in the Homegrown Experience… But that’s for another post.

Do you have a favorite go-to dish when you need to clear out the fridge, freezer and pantry? If so, please share!

Cheers~
Carrie